Nocturnal Meanderings was the launch exhibition of Studio Clowder (a collective I am part of). This is the exhibition statement I wrote:
Paul Klee famously stated that “a line is a dot that went for a walk”. Like much of what this singular philosopher/artist said, this statement can be interpreted divergently, and as such it purposefully eschews one reading. Perhaps at its core, it is a statement about the creative process – that leap into creativity where the inert idea (dot) begins to rove freely: a movement both purposive and mercurial; sure but also uncertain. No work of art, in any medium or discipline, can develop without this transition from stasis to movement. It is a delicate moment and difficult to describe; perhaps the only way to explain it is through praxis and the fruit thereof. And this brings us to the exhibition through which you are about to meander. All the works presented are the products of a creative leap. They are countless dots and thoughts going for walks and often as not getting lost in the wood and becoming weird and feral before ending up on the paper and canvases that hang upon these walls.
To meander has two meanings; one describes the physical realm and one describes the mental. Firstly, and more commonly, the term is used to describe a certain kind of movement. To meander is to walk slowly without any clear direction or ostensible goal. This is definitely pertinent to the art-making process, since many creatives get ideas while walking. Obviously the real works happens in the studio, but often the slow subterranean bubble of an idea germinates in the in-between moments of aimless wandering. More often than not we are not conscious the idea’s formation.
Meander is also used to describe convoluted or undirected thoughts and language. In most aspects of modern life such unhurried acts are frowned upon, especially in an advanced capitalist society where practicality, productivity and efficiency are revered. Art, on the contrary, especially the darkly whimsical art of Studio Clowder, normalizes convolutions as a modus operandi. The artist exhibiting here all have different routes by which they stumble upon their creations, but no route is mechanistic, or straight- forward, or fine-tuned to adhere to any norms of optimum productivity. Our art belongs to a world apart from everyday norms; a world more akin to the night than the blaring, unforgiving daytime.
This brings us to Nocturnal, which according to our exhibition title is the time of day, or more accurately, the state of mind in which our meandering takes place. Nocturnal is a derived from the Latin term, Nocturnalis, which can be translated as ‘of the night’. It is therefore accurate to say our works aren’t only depictions of nocturnal creatures in the biological sense, but also depictions of creatures and scenes that embody nocturnal qualities. This essence of Nocturnal-ness is not easy to pin down (mainly because aloofness is a quality inherent to it), but over many years, artists of divergent disciplines have been inspired by this dream state (perhaps reaching its pinnacle in 19th century Romanticism). In this sense our exhibition has its roots in a tradition that is centuries old.
These pictures may appear to be merely whimsical fantasy scenes, but quite often the themes visualized are serious and personal. Our art walks (or meanders) the tightrope between playfulness and solemnity, whimsy and pensiveness. Another affinity we have with a nocturnal tradition of thought, is with our use of children’s book illustration as an idiom of idea expression. Illustration in itself is not seen by many as forming part of the ‘Fine Arts’ family, but more as a bastard child, spawned in a scandalous union between word and image. The pictures you will see in this exhibition are our own restless bastard children. They are not quite at home in (certain) fine art galleries but also not at ease when safely encased between the covers of a book. Like their creators, these images feel safest when viewed from the periphery.
We invite you now to take your own meander through our nocturnal expressions. There is no correct route between the works, and no order in which they ought to be viewed. Indeed, convolutions and ambiguity are welcome in our little universe. We hope that by participating with our nocturnal meanderings, your own daydreams may take on a different form. This process of imaginative crosspollination within the nebulous realm of dreams is what this exhibition is for, and which is the ultimate purpose of our art, and by extension our very existence.